The Fabulous Five: Cinque Terre

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Advisor - Christina Page
Curated By

Christina Page

  • Cinque Terre

  • Beaches

  • Boutique Travel

  • Couples Travel

  • Sightseeing

  • Local Culture

  • Coastal

View of colorful buildings in a Cinque Terre town near ocean during daytime.
Curator’s statement

Cinque Terre is my favorite place in Italy thanks to the authentic Italian culture and small-town vibes. This beautiful and scenic Italian seaside paradise consists of five cliffside villages in the Liguria region of Italy. These picturesque towns are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and full of grape vines, lemon trees and olive trees. As you might expect, the food here is fresh and authentic and the locally-grown wine is top of the line.

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Where to stay in Cinque Terre, Italy

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Things to do in Cinque Terre, Italy

Colorful buildings in a town in Cinque Terre on a cliff by the ocean

No matter where you stay in Cinque Terre, exploring all five villages is a must. Getting from Terre to Terre is easy as you can explore the surrounding area and get to each hub by foot, train or ferry. Pro Tip: Snag yourself a Cinque Terre Treno MS Card to hike the trails and upgrade to include unlimited train travel so you can get wherever you’d like to go, any way you would like to get there.


The largest of the five villages, Monterosso is known for its gorgeous beaches. Hop right off the train and directly across from the station you will see Spiaggia di Fegina, the largest beach in all of Cinque Terre. Take a quick right and you can walk all the way to the end of the beach to see Il Gigante, a 46-foot statue of Neptune carved into the cliffs. Monterosso is a watersport lover's paradise, home to the majority of the boating or kayak tours in the area.

Monterosso is split into two areas: Fegina (the newer area by the beach and train station) and Borgo Antico (old town Monterosso). Separating these distinct, yet equally desirable destinations stands Torre Aurora — a tower from the 16th century that now houses a bar and restaurant. There is a steep path near the pedestrian tunnel you can take up to Monumento a San Francesco d’Assis for panoramic views of the tower, the sea and the town. Continue up the historic path to visit a church dating back to 1632, Chiesa di San Francesco, a Capuchin monastery that features even more panoramic views.

On the other side of this scenic split is the aforementioned old town of Monterosso, Borgo Antico, which is kept in great condition by the locals here. Spend time strolling the historic streets to see local restaurants and shops with handmade goods. Borgo Antico is charming with many alleys leading to less touristy areas to explore to your heart’s content.

My favorite hotel here is Hotel Villa Steno. It is a quaint, hilltop hotel with beautiful views of Old Town and the sea. It is a bit of a trek to climb up to the hotel as you ascend steep steps (which might affect your decision to hike later) through their gardens full of lemon trees and other fresh fruits and veggies. Hotel Villa Steno is family-operated and provides excellent, friendly service. Their breakfast spread is one of the best I’ve seen at any hotel — complete with fresh-squeezed juices and homemade baked goods — and their outdoor balcony is perfect for taking in the morning sights and sounds by the sea. Hotel Villa Steno also offers cooking classes twice a week from their beautiful balcony, where you learn to make your own pesto and pasta. This home-cooked meal is also served with house-made fish and tiramisu. Last but not least, make sure to head up to the panoramic terrace for unbeatable views of Borgo Antico and the sea!

The hiking in Cinque Terre is the most picturesque I’ve ever experienced. The views are worth the pain. No, really! Some trails are closed due to landslides, so be sure to confirm with your travel advisor (me!) what is open over the course of your travels. During peak times, the trails may be in one direction in order to maintain their integrity. Luckily, you can ferry or hop on the train back to your starting point if you’re unable to trek back via trail — or if you’re just beat from the hike (your secret is safe with me). I personally hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza and then onto Corniglia, and, while my muscles ached, the journey was well worth it. Definitely a bucket-list experience.


The trail from Monterosso to Vernazza is 2.1 miles and very steep in elevation. A popular scenic viewpoint on this hike provides you with the best view of Vernazza — a colorful village that features steep (again with the incline!) and narrow streets to explore. Be sure to check out the picturesque harbor and the small pebble beach, as you’ll find even more vibrant vistas.


The hike from Vernazza to Corniglia — a gorgeous hilltop village surrounded by vineyards — is two miles. Be sure to check out Belvedere di Santa Maria, a lookout terrace with views of the sea and all five villages. The smallest town in Cinque Terre, Corniglia is the only village not reachable by ferry. From the train station stop, you will need to walk up exactly 382 steps (not that anyone’s counting each painstaking step or anything) to get to town. Or just take a shuttle up the hill, no judgment here. Since we hiked to Corniglia, we were happy to be going down the stairs to the train station rather than up.


The trail between Corniglia and Manarola was closed during our trip, so we hopped on a quick, albeit crowded, train. This vibrant village boasts more grapevines than the rest of the Cinque Terre Five and is famous for its colorful waterfront promenade. Make your way up to Manarola’s popular scenic viewpoint (only 200 meters from the harbor) for views of the sea, harbor and town. This is one of the most famous vistas in Cinque Terre, so you may have already seen pics from this particular spot if you’ve done some research on the area. Pro Tip: Stick around after the cruisers have returned to the ship to watch the sunset from Manarola’s famous viewpoint.


Manarola and Riomaggiore are connected by Via dell’Amore, which translates to the "Path of Love," which unfortunately was closed for over a decade due to landslides. The path has recently reopened but is currently only available to locals and organized tours in order to preserve its integrity. Be sure to check out Riomaggiore’s harbor, featuring a small, pristine pebble beach. Riomaggiore boasts Cinque Terre’s only dive center with snorkeling or dive trips to the Marine Protected Area, so sea lovers do not want to miss this.

Places to eat & drink in Cinque Terre, Italy

A glass of red wine on a surface overlooking a vineyard


Enoteca Internazionale, the oldest wine shop in Monterosso, is the place to snag Cinque Terre wines. You can choose a red or white wine flight (or go big and try both, like we did!) to sample wonderfully distinct wine from each of the five villages. Vernazza featured our favorite vinos from both the red and white sample selections. Enoteca Internazionale also offers food, and their delicious dessert pizza is truly one of a kind.

Enoteca da Eliseo is a wine bar located in an alley in Borgo Antico that’s flush with craveable cocktails and delectable fresh olives. This is where we first tried limoncino and learned about the importance of lemons in the region. Sagra dei limoni, a lemon festival, is held in Monterosso each year in May, which is a great time to visit and see locals compete in various lemon competitions and try all kinds of lemon delicacies.


L’Ancora della Tortuga is a family-owned and operated Michelin-star restaurant offering Ligurian cuisine and serving up scenic sea views in Monterosso. You can choose a chef’s tasting menu or order a la carte, but reservations are recommended for this in-demand restaurant.

Nessun Dorma is located near the Manarola Scenic Viewpoint and offers more breathtaking views of the sea and town. Due to its ideal location, there is always a wait, so I recommend joining the queue online and making the most of your time exploring Manarola while you wait for your table. Don’t want to wait? Book a pesto experience in advance to learn how to make your own pesto, learn about its Cinque Terre roots AND skip the line. Lunch and a glass of wine are even included in your experience, talk about a win-win!

Terra Rossa offers delicious, yet affordable, wine and tapas in a quaint seaview garden. Located in Corniglia’s Old Town, this restaurant is small, so come early or make reservations to secure your spot and enjoy views of both Corniglia and the sea. The wine bar here is run by two sisters who provide exceptional service. Pro Tip: Be sure to pair one of these delicious local wines with their bruschetta and focaccia, and come close to sundown as this is the perfect setting to enjoy the sunset!

La Posada Ristorante offers a large terrace with ocean views and is an ideal spot to stop for a quick snack or enjoy a full meal. It’s located in a convenient location near the top of the stairs to the Corniglia train station, which makes it the perfect place to stop in on your way in or out of Corniglia.

Even if you don’t stay at Hotel Porto Roca, be sure to check out Restaurant La Terraza for an upscale dining experience you do not want to miss. Reservations are recommended and be sure to request a table on the terrace for scenic views of both the sea and the entire town of Monterosso. This restaurant offers complimentary shuttle service to/from town if you’re not able to (or simply don’t want to) walk up the steep hill to Hotel Porto Roca, but their homemade pasta and local fish is worth the trek alone!

Batti Batti Friggitoria in Vernazza and Tutti Fritti in Riomaggiore offer a great pick-me-up after a long hike with fresh fried seafood and fries served quaintly and conveniently in a cone. Grab one to go and enjoy the harbor to celebrate your scenic journey. Be sure to try both places to compare and see which you prefer!

Advisor - Christina Page

Travel Advisor

Christina Page

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For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Cat Mayhew’s guide, Exploring the Italian Coastline: A Guide to Cinque Terre.

This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Cinque Terre.